Caroline Lewis, Regional Fundraiser of the North, spoke to members of Gainsborough Probus recently about The Blue Cross and the organisation particularly in the world wars of the 20th century, all illustrated by photographs.
Blue Cross, the animal equivalent of Red Cross, was founded in 1897 and originally called Our Dumb Friends League.
Its initial intention was to encourage kindness to animals, particularly with reference to horses in an age when they were a vital means of transport.
In the First World War, horses were also a significant part of army action, causing inevitably suffering and the need to care for the animals. Of 1.2million horses involved then, it is estimated that more than 450,000 died.
In the Second World War, there was still extensive use of horses and donkeys in the war effort and the need for help, particularly at the end of the war. Among the bombings in Great Britain, Blue Cross was involved in the rescue and care of animals.
The first hospital for animals (in the world) was established by Blue Cross in 1906, and this is still open, while other hospitals have been established, including in Grimsby.
In addition to this work, amongst other things the Blue Cross helps in the rehoming particularly of cats and dogs. All this work of course costs, and is supported by charity shops and fundraising.
Before Caroline’s lively presentation, many members were unaware of the Blue Cross and it activities. Our Dumb Friends League has transformed into the Blue Cross, but is still fulfilling its original and important purpose of caring for animals.